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Equipped with 2 telephones, 2 bicycles and 6 hired boys, (19 year-old) Emmett “Jim” Casey and his partner Claude Ryan used $100 of borrowed cash to start their new journey. It was 1907 and both had prior knowledge and experience of the streets and errand running, they set up in a basement office under a Seattle saloon (owned by Ryan’s father), calling the business the American Messenger Company. Sending telegrams was a common thing of the time, as few owned telephones, so Casey and Ryan opted to deliver said telegrams (as well as complete other errands). There were a host of other competitors in the business already, but by focusing on “the best service and the lowest rates” the American Messenger Company managed to navigate through the market and see growth. Through use of placards around the city bearing the their service, phone number and price they remained transparent and honest, which seemed rather rare in the business.

The company continued to grow taking on contracts from giant department stores in Seattle and partnering with other messenger companies. When the American Messenger Service merged with Evert “Mac” McCabe’s Motorcycle Delivery Company in 1913, they totalled 25 messengers, 6 motorcycles, a Ford Model T and a new name: Merchants Parcel Delivery. Although the company was making $2,200 per month, it needed more income to continue its growth. Charlie Soderstrom joined Merchants Parcel Delivery, in 1916, after Casey persuaded him to invest $10,000 in the company through stock purchase. As a seasoned delivery driver, Charlie added to the company accordingly, even adding the choice of colour for the trucks: brown (still seen today on UPS vehicles), due to it minimising the the display of dust and dirt.

Merchants Parcel Delivery evolved and and learned more (seeing the departure of Claude Ryan in 1917). They landed contracts with bigger clients in Seattle and developed their delivery system further. The company created the 3-delivery-attempt policy before returning goods to the shipper. Both policies remain active at UPS today and can also be recognised world-wide within many other delivery services.

Moving on from Seattle, when setting up in San Francisco, the business found a Merchants Parcel company already existed. So, through use of various elements of names each of the stakeholders liked, the name “United Parcel Service” was created (later abbreviated to “UPS”).

UPS moved onwards to New York, developing and venturing into aircraft delivery. By the time Emmett “Jim” Casey retired from the company in 1962, it had grown to operating in 31 U.S. states boasting an annual revenue of approximately $550 million with about 22,000 workers. Today UPS creates nearly 500,000 jobs in over 220 countries, with an annual revenue (in 2019) of $46.5 billion.

Emmett “Jim” Casey, created a huge business, that continues to create opportunities for others to this day. Through his sheer determination and hard work, Casey was able to build a respected and trustworthy brand. Be it his charitable acts or encouragement to always look your best, Casey’s mantra rang true: “Never promise more than you can deliver, and always deliver what you promise.” He definitely delivered a lot, changing lives and pushing the envelope.

This is a sheer glimpse into the business journey of Emmett “Jim” Casey. An epic adventure for a $100 loan, don’t you think?

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